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You Don't Know Scotch: 5 Minute Guide to Scotch Whisky

This blog post was originally published on January 11, 2017 and has been updated for June 2017. You don’t need to be wearing your best suit to enjoy scotch whisky. But before you pick up one from off the shelf, you may want to do your research on this premium liquor. Blindly entering the world of scotch whisky might leave you with a sour taste in your mouth (not quite literally - maybe more of a burn). But don’t worry - that’s why we put together this short guide for you. Keep reading to learn more about scotch and you’ll be on your way to enjoying this classic drink in no time.

The Name

Scotch whisky must always be from Scotland. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. The Scots spell it "whisky" while the Irish spell it "whiskey." This difference in spelling comes from the translations of the word from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic forms. When Irish immigrants came to the United States in the 1700s, they took the "e" with them. The name isn’t the only difference. Scotch and whiskey have different distillation processes and ingredients.

How to Drink It

Now that you know why it’s spelled without the "e", you’re ready to drink it. Keep in mind that all scotch must age for at least three years before consumption. Ordering it “neat” (no ice) is a popular way to drink it. You may want to add a few drops of water, though, as this can help reveal flavors of the liquor. Some people also prefer to drink their scotch “on the rocks” (with ice). If you’re in the mood for shots, you should choose a different liquor.

The Variations

Scotch is a term that includes several subtypes, such as single malts and blends. There are five categories of scotch:
  • Single Malt: Made with water and malted barley.
  • Single Grain: Made with water, malted barley, and another type of grain.
  • Blended Malt: A combination of multiple single malt whiskies from different distilleries.
  • Blended Grain: A combination of multiple single grain whiskies from different distilleries.
  • Blended Scotch Whisky: A combination of at least one single-malt scotch with at least one single-grain scotch.

How to Choose It

Choose wisely, or you might never want to choose it again. This is something you'll be sipping on, so picking the right kind is important. You’ll want something smooth and light with minimal burn. For starters, you could try Glenmorangie 10 (Original), Dewar’s, or Bank Note Blended. These are good stepping stones into the world of scotch whisky. There is so much to learn about scotch whisky, but the best way to learn about it is to taste it. Thinking of getting your hands on your first (or second) bottle of scotch? Or looking for a particular bottle that you can’t find elsewhere? Visit Wachusett Wine & Spirits. Our inventory is always expanding and we’d be happy to help you find the perfect option. contact us
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